A leaked SMS is fueling the submarine dispute between Australia and France. The French ambassador speaks of Macron's "deliberate deception".
In the dispute over a failed submarine deal between France and Australia, the French ambassador in Canberra, Jean-Pierre Thébault, spoke of an "unprecedented new low" in the relationship between the two states - especially when it comes to truth and trust. French President Emmanuel Macron was lied to "and the deception was done on purpose," said the diplomat in the national press club. "The way it was handled was a stab in the back."
Australia, the USA and Great Britain announced a new joint security alliance in the Indo-Pacific in mid-September without consulting their allies. In this context, Australia is to be given access to US technology for the construction and operation of nuclear submarines. A big deal on submarines between France and Australia was broken. The government in Paris reacted furiously, and France's bilateral relations with the alliance countries were in crisis. Thébault was initially called back to Paris, but is now back in Australia.
Macron had already openly accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying a few days ago. When asked if he believed Morrison lied to him, the French head of state said: "I don't believe it. I know." Morrison had denied the allegations. He always communicated clearly on the subject. There was new trouble on Tuesday when the Australian media published a leaked text message that Macron is said to have written to Morrison on the subject. "That's not how you behave when it comes to personal exchanges between two top politicians," Thébault wrote.
Dispute over the interpretation of the SMS
In the text message, Macron allegedly asked Morrison if he should expect "good or bad news" about their shared submarine ambitions. The message, the authenticity of which Macron's environment did not want to comment, is said to have been sent by the President in September. Two days later the US, UK and Australia announced their new security alliance.
In the Australian media, it was speculated that the government in Canberra wanted to use the leaked SMS to prove that France knew in advance that the deal might collapse. Macron's environment countered: "We didn't know. The Australians betrayed us." The SMS just showed that the French government was not up to date. US President Joe Biden apologized for the clumsy approach, it said. There is no regret whatsoever from Australia.